Smoke an authentic Colorado experience |

Smoke an authentic Colorado experience

Allen Best

FRASER – At Devil’s Thumb Ranch, a famous cross-country ski mecca, air pollution is part of an authentic Colorado experience.

Oh, that’s not quite how the developer put it, but it came out much the same in a report by the Winter Park Manifest.

A zoning ordinance adopted a decade ago attempted to minimize pollution in the Fraser Valley. Temperature inversions there are notoriously common, causing cold air and smoke below a layer of warmer air.

That layer of smoke on some winter mornings is as defined as a lid on a pickle jar. As such, the law allows only one woodburning fireplace per commercial establishment. Other resort areas, including Vail and Beaver Creek, have similar laws.

But the developers of 24 cabins wanted to install 32 enclosed woodburning fireplaces. Gas logs, they said “detract from the ranch’s spirit of authenticity,” while burning wood “provides a traditional Colorado experience.”

Proponents said the fireplaces, called Biz Panorama, are 90 percent more efficient than traditional fireplaces.

Several neighbors continue to object to the aesthetic impacts as well as the health effects of smoke, but not all. One neighbor, Andy Miller, said firewood is abundant as a result of a bark beetle epidemic and if burning of those piles is not limited, why should fireplaces be?

Wolves problem predators in Montana

RED LODGE, Mont. – Wolves wandering from Yellowstone National Park to Red Lodge and other parts of Carbon County are now considered “problem predators.”

Although the resolution passed by Carbon County Commissioners carries little weight of law, some proponents said it gives the county the right to someday invoke predator regulations, allowing unregulated killing of wolves. Several other counties in Montana have or plan to adopt similar resolutions, reports the Billings Gazette.

The commissioners said wolves have “historically proven to be detrimental” to agriculture production in the county. John Kuchinski, ranch comptroller for Sinclair Oil, said the ranch lost 110 calves to wolves or undetermined causes last year, at a cost of $120,000. Four of the losses were confirmed wolf kills and the ranch was reimbursed.

But opponents of the resolution said labeling wolves as “predators” is inappropriate because it means under state law that wolves are to be eradicated.

Since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone several years ago, they have proliferated. As such, the species is a candidate to be taken of the endangered species list. However, before that occurs, states must have plans in place to guarantee that populations will be sustained.

Management plans from Montana, Idaho and Wyoming this month received tentative approval, but not necessarily endorsements, by 11 wolf experts who reviewed them for adequacy in maintaining the wolf populations. Wyoming’s proposed plan has drawn fire because it would classify wolves as trophy game if they’re in the national parks or designated wilderness areas, and as predators elsewhere in the state. Predator designation would allow them to be killed any time and by any means.